Coast Guard Finds Probable Cause of Misconduct in Branson Tour Boat Sinking

Emergency responders work at Table Rock Lake after a deadly boat accident in Branson, MO.
Emergency responders work at Table Rock Lake after a deadly boat accident in Branson, MO. // Photo by Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, Newscred

The U.S. Coast Guard probable cause that “misconduct, negligence, or inattention to the duties” by the captain of the Ride the Ducks boat that sank in Branson, Missouri, in July, contributed to the ship’s sinking. The Coast Guard also found probable cause that the captain acted in a “grossly negligent manner.”

The amphibious tour boat capsized and sank while out on a lake near Branson when a severe thunderstorm with 60mph winds struck the area. Seventeen people were killed.

The Springfield News-Leader reported on the Coast Guard’s findings, which were released as part of a motion by federal prosecutors to delay the discovery process in a series of civil lawsuits filed against the boat’s operator. Prosecutors argued that the discovery process, in which plaintiffs and defendants in the civil case share evidence, could interfere with the criminal investigation into the incident by allowing suspects to see evidence too early and coordinate their defenses.

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According to KY3, the Coast Guard referred the investigation to federal prosecutors on August 13. No criminal charges have been filed. The three civil lawsuits pending against the tour boat operator allege that the company ignored weather warnings the day of the incident, and that the company had ignored previous warnings that the design of the boat was dangerous.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the company said that it is continuing to cooperate with the investigation.

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